Catching and treating cancer early can mean the difference between life and death for a patient. Early intervention, before cancer has spread throughout the body, can grant the patient access to life-saving treatments. Unfortunately, not all physicians use the correct standard of care when diagnosing patients. This leads to harmful cancer misdiagnosis.
Barry D. Lang, M.D. & Associates has been handling medical malpractice cases for more than 20 years. Our Boston cancer misdiagnosis lawyers understand the nuances of this practice area and how to protect our clients’ rights and interests. We are prepared to help you or someone you love seek justice for the financial, physical and emotional burden of a cancer misdiagnosis. Request a free case consultation with one of our attorneys in Boston, Massachusetts today to learn more.
What Are The Dangers of Cancer Misdiagnosis?
Cancer misdiagnosis is harmful because it may be too late to treat the disease by the time doctors make the correct diagnosis. Early detection and intervention are critical when fighting cancer. Cancer metastasizes, or spreads throughout the body, over time. If it spreads too much, it is too difficult to treat and can be terminal. The best prognosis for remission and recovery come when cancer cases are caught in their initial stages, before the disease has spread (typically, stages 1 or 2).
In addition, if the cancer was misdiagnosed as a different health problem, the patient may also receive (and pay for) the incorrect treatment. This can cause serious harm in itself depending on the aggressiveness of the treatment plan chosen for the illness or condition that the patient does not actually have. Misclassifying a disease will put a patient on the wrong trajectory in terms of treatment and recovery, which is harmful in more ways than one.
What Cancers Are Most Commonly Misdiagnosed?
Diagnosing cancer is a complex process that requires general knowledge of the disease, the correct medical tests and x-rays, and an accurate interpretation of test results. Due to the nature of cancer, the signs and symptoms can often resemble other illnesses. Lung cancer, for example, is often misdiagnosed as just an infection. This can lead to a doctor misdiagnosing cancer as something else entirely – or nothing at all. Some of the most commonly misdiagnosed types of cancer are:
- Breast cancer
- Colon cancer
- Lung cancer
- Skin cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Pancreatic cancer
These cancers are more frequently missed by doctors than others due to symptoms that are similar to other illnesses and diseases. To avoid this issue, a cancer specialist (known as an oncologist) should use a variety of medical tests to confirm or contradict a potential diagnosis. This may include blood tests, tissue sample biopsies, CT and MRI scans, bone scans, PET scans, and ultrasounds. If a doctor, oncologist or radiologist is negligent – he or she fails to use the appropriate standard of patient care – it can lead to a dangerous cancer misdiagnosis.
When Is a Cancer Misdiagnosis Medical Malpractice?
Proving a medical malpractice case for a cancer misdiagnosis takes clear and convincing evidence that the oncologist or health care provider in charge of the patient’s care owed the patient a duty to meet the required standard of care but breached this duty and caused the patient harm. Establishing malpractice often requires testimony from a medical expert in the same field as the defendant, such as an oncologist in a case involving cancer.
It is required of the plaintiff or plaintiff’s attorney to prove that the defendant made a mistake or lapse in judgment that a prudent doctor would not have made in similar circumstances, such as:
- Failing to ask for the patient’s thorough history, conduct an adequate patient exam or perform a colonoscopy.
- Failing to use the proper procedures when conducting medical scans or tests, resulting in inaccurate test results.
- Disregarding laboratory recommendations to conduct additional testing, such as following up with a tissue sample biopsy.
- Misreading or misinterpreting imaging tests, lab tests or biopsies – or mistakes made during the lab testing itself.
- Diagnosing the patient with only a limited amount of information based on minimal testing.
- Diagnosing a patient with a different illness based on similar symptoms without definitively ruling out cancer.
Misdiagnosing cancer in a patient can lead to the spread of the cancerous cells and missed opportunities for life-saving treatments. It may result in disfiguring surgeries and unnecessary treatments, as well – all while the patient is not receiving the treatment that he or she needs for the actual cancer. Our Boston medical misdiagnosis lawyers know that cancer misdiagnosis is a dangerous type of malpractice that can have a wide range of ramifications on a victim, many of which are, sadly, irreversible in a cancer case.
Is a Delayed Cancer Diagnosis a Medical Malpractice Claim?
Just as misdiagnosing cancer as something else constitutes malpractice if another doctor would have made the correct diagnosis, unnecessarily delaying a patient’s cancer diagnosis can also qualify as medical malpractice. If another doctor or oncologist reasonably would have come to the correct conclusion sooner, a physician may be guilty of malpractice in the form of a delayed diagnosis.
A delayed cancer diagnosis can occur if a doctor makes any of the following mistakes:
- Ignores the patient’s symptoms or complaints.
- Does not look at the patient’s medical or family history.
- Does not order the correct medical tests.
- Misses the signs of cancer in the patient’s test results.
- Fails to recommend the patient to a cancer specialist.
- Fails to follow up with the patient.
If the delayed cancer diagnosis was caused by negligence on the physician’s part, and the patient more likely than not would have had a better health outcome with a prompt and timely diagnosis, the doctor can be held liable for medical malpractice in Boston.
Contact a Cancer Misdiagnosis Attorney in Boston Today
If you or a loved one has suffered from a cancer misdiagnosis, you deserve justice. The Boston medical malpractice attorneys at Barry D. Lang, M.D. & Associates can help you identify medical malpractice, connect you to the ideal attorney for your case, and help you go up against a doctor or hospital in Boston in pursuit of maximum financial compensation for your losses.
We are here for you and your family in the aftermath of a harmful cancer misdiagnosis. Contact us for a free case evaluation with an attorney today. Call 1-877-LAW-DOCS anytime – we have receptionists available to take your call 24/7.